Solar Corona Visualization, 2017 Eclipse

A total eclipse of the Sun occurred in August,2017.  Observers gathered images and manipulated them digitally.  In consequence we see the solar corona like never before. There, that is everything I know about astronomy with respect to this image, said image being presented today as NASA’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day.”  I just did want you all not to miss it.  Maybe somebody will comment!

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A Book Note

In The Dead and Those About to Die, D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach,  John C McManus describes the planning, training, decision-making, first wave, subsequent waves, breakout up the cliffs and draws, and establishment of the beachhead a bit inland.  Prior to systematic discussion of these, McManus places a Prologue that gives the reader some idea of the first-wave landing from the Higgins boats.  It is titled “Shock.”... [Read More]

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Monday Meals: Asparagus Glut

Without doubt, spring is here.  Violets are in bloom all over the lawns, and half a bushel of asparagus is hauled in every couple of days.  Any ideas what to do with it?

I hear there are steamers and vertical cylinders and so on.  Right now my go-to method involves a big flat pan with a tight lid. Line the spears up in there; cover barely, just barely, halfway with water; apply the lid; bring to a simmer.  A dramatic color change will impress you:  as soon as they heat up they turn very bright green. So stand right there and be ready to shut it all down and yank them out after about two minutes – before that bright green color begins to dull.... [Read More]

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Lies as Fuel for Slaughter; Truth as Wellspring of Courage

Yesterday, by chance, reading involved two things: a chapter of history and a short story.  Written by men living 2300 years apart, these describe the very same thing: the workings of the human heart, in particular at times of trial, and the results of those workings in terms of human suffering and survival. In the history, people lied to everyone about everything in an attempt to save their own skins, and failed, earning themselves sordid deaths.  In the story, a man is led by his absolute devotion to truth at least to die with integrity after having behaved well.

Thucydides claims to have based his history on near reports, and to have fleshed it out with his own considered reconstructions of the speeches made by the great men on all sides during the Peloponnesian War.  That’s fine; all well and good, but to read it is to scan multiple recursions of the same theme, here paraphrased:... [Read More]

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Petrified Sand Dunes

Southwest Utah is known for having, and showing plainly, strata from all geologic periods.  Snow Canyon, ten miles northwest of St. George, is included in a state park featuring giant Navajo sandstone petrified dunes accented here and there with big messy piles of black volcanic rocks, all in a wide open valley with vistas and sunshine all day long. Looking north in late March:

... [Read More]

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Anger Management Wednesday: “The Devil and Daniel Webster”

Dollinks,

What I am supposed to be doing is packing and otherwise preparing for the Left Coast Sojourn. But this I have in mind is more interesting.  Hey, I checked the upcoming weather Utah and San Fran; I pulled out multiple clothing items and arranged them in various piles; I tried on bathing costumes in March in the Northern Hemisphere!  All those today!  So now I can do as I like for a while.... [Read More]

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I Follow My Heart to San Francisco

I am going to San Francisco in a couple of weeks, to visit my two sons and my daughter-in-law.  Yes!  My darlings live and work in Calcutta-by-the-Bay.  They have done so for a few years now, and this is my first visit. I’ll behave myself.  May I call on you if I seem to be in danger of misbehaving?

We have plans! O, Ratty,  as our WiseWoman says, would you care to comment on these plans?  Your judgment and advice I prize most highly.... [Read More]

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To Love is to Wait

The stages of development of spousal love are described in our literature, sometimes one stage at a time, sometimes in consideration of all the stages.

Andrew Klavan, who does not join us here and is therefore ultimately foolish, made in a recent podcast a wise recommendation on this subject. He recommended the poem Wordsworth wrote about his own spouse: She was a phantom of delight. It recounts the progression of the poet’s understanding of his lady, from initial sensory impact, to appreciation of manners, ultimately to respect for her transcendent humanity: a Being breathing thoughtful breath.... [Read More]

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“The Apple-Tree, the Singing, and the Gold”

In the Hippolytus of Euripides, matters proceed as the usual unstoppable train-wreck: swiftly at times and slowly at other times; hopeful for a few moments but dreadful mostly.  Goddess makes Queen fall in love with own stepson; Queen tries to shake it off, but fails; humans and deities all clamor about, baffling progress and escalating strife; Queen starts gearing up to do something not only stupid but also evil; Chorus gets a whiff of it and just wishes to get the heck out of there.

Here is Gilbert Murray’s translation of the Chorus as they fantasize escape destinations:  a cave, a cloud, the beach, a riverbank, and then hit on the ideal place: the Garden of the Hesperides, of course.... [Read More]

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Lines from a Political Prisoner

Framed by enemies, this prisoner at risk of execution wrote thus:

Oh Fortune, thy wresting wavering state
Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit,
Whose witness this present prison late
Could bear, where once was joy’s loan quit.
Thou causedst the guilty to be loosed
From bands where innocents were inclosed,
And caused the guiltless to be reserved,
And freed those that death had well deserved.
But all herein can be nothing wrought,
So God send to my foes all they have thought.... [Read More]

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